Thursday, August 22, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTON PHOTO
Seventh seed Ratchanok Intanon teetered on the brink of elimination from the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 before hauling herself back to safe ground.
The Thai, world champion in 2013, was nearly bested in a cracker of a contest by Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The Indonesian’s sparkling strokeplay had Intanon in trouble all through the first two games. Down by two match points in the second, Intanon conjured an escape path, winning game point with a cross net shot that was pure magic.
Once she’d opened the escape hatch, there was no stopping Intanon, even as Tunjung’s morale slipped. The 18-21 23-21 21-10 result gave Intanon a quarterfinal against unseeded Singaporean Yeo Jia Min, whose fairytale run continued with a 21-15 14-21 21-16 victory over Vu Thi Trang.
It was a mostly deflating session for Indonesia, as men’s singles sixth seed Anthony Ginting and mixed doubles pair Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja and Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti followed Tunjung out of the competition.
Ginting faded out after a keen opening game against Sai Praneeth, who made his fourth quarterfinal this year.
“The rallies were going well and he was playing fast, and I was prepared for the pace,” said Praneeth. “I was down in the second game, but once I covered the lead, I thought this is the best chance ever. I could see he was under pressure, he was making mistakes. I just kept on building the pressure.
“I played some good matches in Japan and Thailand, so I was confident and the draw wasn’t too tough or too easy, so I thought I have to be at 100 percent.”
Among the significant results of the day was the defeat of men’s doubles eighth seeds Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen by 13th seeds Liao Min Chun/Su Ching Heng, 21-19 12-21 21-17. The Chinese Taipei duo made only their second quarterfinal this year, after the Australian Open.
“She was playing so well and I was so nervous. She was pushing the momentum and I was reacting all the way. I was only trying to keep it in the court and trying to stay calm. I want to show that I’ve improved my fitness. It’s not about just badminton. I don’t want to players ranked lower than me, and I want to win even when I’m not at my best.” – Ratchanok Intanon